It was Christmas at the Andrews' house last night. We were celebrating with both daughters, our son-in-law to-be and my father-in-law. But guess what? No children's table. Nope. No ankle-biters in the family at this point. Perhaps in a few years we'll have a couple knee-nibblers or curtain-climbers to join the Andrews' tribe, but until that happy day we'll just have to settle for boring adult conversation.
In today's Scripture, I felt a little like we were listening in on the adult conversation between God and Abraham. Poor Isaac is sitting at the kid's table – or more accurately, lying on top of it, about to be sacrificed – while God speaks only to Abraham. Or is there more to this story?
Gen. 22:9-10 – “When [Abraham and Isaac] reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.”
- Isaac could have run (surely, no matter what his age, this boy was faster than his 100+ year-old father). He could have fought or screamed; but we don't get that impression, do we? For whatever reason, this boy (or young man), who understands sacrifice (Gen. 22:7), chose to suffer silently while his father was tested by El Shaddai. Sometimes those who watch their loved ones being tested, suffer just as painfully alongside them.
- I thought God was testing Abraham's FAITH, but the angel says this sacrifice proves his FEAR of God. Now, let's think about this. Whose FEAR of God was REALLY heightened in this process – the one with the knife or the one on the altar? (Yes, the Hebrew word here is literally “fear” or “reverence.”)
- Abraham wasn't the only one that saw the ram – Isaac saw that it was the LORD who provided the sacrifice for the burnt offering…just as his father had promised (Gen. 22:8). Abraham definitely proved his faith, but Isaac's faith was just as certainly being built.
- God had already promised all this to Abraham and his descendants without any action on Abraham’s part (Gen. 15). So why did God say THIS act of obedience would bring to pass the Covenant Promise? Hmmmm, perhaps because God knew the kids' table was listening? Isaac was hearing the Promise resound from heaven for the first time, and it was essential that Isaac and HIS descendants understand that obedience was necessary to remain in the Promised Land (Deut. 30).